Holistic Approach to Wellness
More than 18.2 million people (or 6.3 percent of the population) in the United States have diabetes. There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes usually occurs during childhood or adolescence. Type 2 diabetes, which is the most common form of the disease, usually occurs in people who are 45 years of age or older. However, the rate of diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents is increasing in alarming numbers.
Diabetes Can Be Silent
Diabetes can go silently undetected for a long time without symptoms. Many people first become aware that they have diabetes when they develop one of its potentially life-threatening complications, such as heart disease, blindness or nerve disease.
Fortunately, diabetes can be managed with proper care. Diabetes is a chronic (life-long) condition that can have serious consequences. However, with careful attention to your blood sugar control, lifestyle modifications and medications if needed, you can manage your diabetes and may avoid many of the problems associated with the disease.
Diet is Key
For people with diabetes, a nutritious diet means paying very careful attention to things like serving size, carbohydrates, and mealtimes. Read food labels. You can begin to understand how different foods will affect your blood sugar by reading their nutrition labels. Two key things to pay attention to are serving size and carbohydrates. Eat whole foods low in sugar. Get good amounts of protein and good fats.
Definition of Diabetes
Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. The cause of diabetes is a mystery, although both genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles. There are three types of diabetes:
Warning Signs of Diabetes
Often people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms.
Type 1 diabetes is a disease that starts when the pancreas stops making insulin. Insulin lets blood sugar—also called glucose—enter the body’s cells to be used for energy. Without insulin, the cells can’t get the sugar they need, and too much sugar builds up in the blood.
Type 2 diabetes is a lifelong disease that happens when the cells of the body can’t use insulin the right way or when the pancreas can’t make enough insulin. Insulin lets blood sugar—also called glucose—enter the body’s cells to be used for energy. When insulin is not able to do its job, the cells can’t get the sugar they need, and too much sugar builds up in the blood. Over time, this extra sugar in the blood can damage your eyes, heart, blood vessels, nerves, and kidneys.
Gestational diabetes is a temporary form of insulin resistance that usually occurs halfway through a pregnancy as a result of excessive hormone production in the body, or the pancreas’ inability to make the additional insulin that is needed during some pregnancies in women without a previous history of type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Gestational diabetes usually goes away after pregnancy, but women who have had gestational diabetes are at an increased risk for later developing type 2 diabetes. Researchers have identified a small percentage of diabetes cases that result from specific genetic syndromes, surgery, chemicals, drugs, malnutrition, infections, viruses and other illnesses.
Complications of Diabetes